children are part of the company on a permanent basis
shows we have every year
attend our shows annually
is needed every month to keep Upsala circus running
The story of Upsala-Circus began in March 2000. A German student named Astrid Schorn was completing her studies in social pedagogy in Saint Petersburg. Her goal was to rehabilitate children from the streets with the help of circus arts. She founded her unique project right on the streets of Saint Petersburg.
Larisa Afanasieva, still the executive and art director of the project nowadays, was Astrid’s partner in the project from the first day.Together they sought children from subway stations and teenage hangouts. Using juggling and unicycles Astrid and Larisa were able to form their first group of artists-to-be. In the beginning they would practice on the streets or wherever they could, in parks and on the squares. For many years Upsala-Circus has been a homeless travelling group, until in 2012 we finally built a stationary circus tent.
The first and so far the only tent for youth circus in Russia was erected in 2012 on the premises of the company Teorema. It is a dream come true for Upsala-Circus. The tent provides good lighting and sound, but most importantly it provides a space for creativity. Through creation the children contribute to the project becoming legitimate hosts of the unique atmosphere.
Upsala-Circus has created and published its method based on the combination of the two approaches – modern circus art and social pedagogy. Every member of the team knows the method in details and is able to follow it. We described a special rout for every child entering Upsala-Circus.
The goal of our work is to positively influence the life scenario and social status of at risk children and adolescents by means of modern circus art and creativity. The method itself is based on the combination of the two approaches – modern circus art and social pedagogy. However, the main working instrument is the circus pedagogy. While social pedagogy uses the instruments that help children to socialize and adapt to the existing world, circus creates a special place where children can begin to reflect upon this world, develop their creativity and question this very world.
Each year in the fall Upsala-Circus enrolls new kids to join the project. Approximately 60 kids between 7 and 18 practice circus regularly at the circus every year. We also lead a group of 20 kids aged 12 to 16 in Special Closed School #1 for those who had already committed a crime. Every year kids from Upsala-Circus go on a circus tour (Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain and other countries).
«THE SEALS» – the beginners
A child entering the project coming from either a correctional school or a social support center immediately finds him- or herself in a very special world. In the initiation phase the children are actively pulled into social-cultural activities:
they get acquainted with the values of Upsala-Circus, they participate in workshops and spend holidays together on field trips and camps outside the city. During the first year the children earn their position as group members and learn to see their potential in the world of performing arts. At the end of the first year the children are ready to prepare their first performance.
«THE DEERS» – the main group
Those who successfully complete the first year and wish to continue their path in the project enter the Main group. The young artists in the Main group create a repertoire of performances and practice five times a week. The demands and work regime eventually educates the children in professional creative work with a strong focus on quality results – an all-embracing principle in Upsala-Circus work. The annual international tours of the group and the on-going mentoring of the younger members are an essential part of the education program of the young artists.